Alongside the dreamlike paintings of Felix Mas, while I was in Martin Lawrence Galleries, I was greeted by bright, stunning super-detailed landscape & city by paintings Liudmila Kondakova. Normally, landscapes don’t float my boat, but her paintings are quite extraordinary.
Photos of her work are difficult to find in decent resolution online; fortunately the Martin Lawrence gallery website has a slideshow of her work with larger images. This is important since in the smaller versions, some of the meticulous details in her works are overlooked and lost. She paints every single detail, from the peeling away of the walls to each bloom on a rose bush. It’s truly astounding to see in person.
It’s one thing to paint a street-scape with shops and windows, but completely another endeavour to paint the shop’s details inside the windows! Her observation and attention to tiny detail leaves me speechless. These paintings are absolutely captivating for that reason. I especially like the signage on each building and the bouquets of flowers pouring out of the brightly-shuttered windows.
She paints a lot of inner city landscapes but also does a few “greener” paintings as well, the detail in every one immaculate. Moreover, she does this with gouache and acrylic paint. With oils, since they stay wet for so long, they’re generally preferable for blending and small details. Achieving the same effect with acrylic is very impressive. Her canvases appear very smooth as well, something difficult to achieve with acrylics since they dry so fast. For example, the surface of the tables I painted a few months ago clearly showed the brush strokes I used.
It’s easy for hyper-realistic paintings to fall flat, especially if they over-reference photographs. I mean, why render something realistically when you could just take a picture? To be successful, you must add something to the image that a photograph can’t reproduce. While a photograph captures a moment in time, a realistic painting can reflect movement and change, making the painting feel alive. (Not to say that photography isn’t an art, rather, I’m referring to the point-and-shoot/cell phone method of capturing a photo.)
I’m trying to fathom how she painted the spokes on that bike! Did she paint with a magnifying glass and a needle? She then had to repeat those strokes in the shadow of the bike… not to mention the tower on the horizon.
I wanted to spend hours examining every single one of her paintings. She was able to bring out the character of every scene she painted and render it in detail like I’ve never seen before. I can’t help but wonder how she was able to paint lines so thin or blend so well with quick-drying paints! She may have used a retarder medium to slow the drying times down. Whichever methods she used, they’ve worked beautifully.
I absolutely recommend visiting a gallery with some of her works or prints to view everything close-up. It’s nearly impossible to reflect on this blog how awe-inspiring these paintings are! If you can’t manage that, a flash-animated brochure of her works (with slightly larger images) can be viewed here, and an HTML slideshow with the larger images is available here.